THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A COMICS EMERGENCY
HERO SQUARED #3
Written by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis and Drawn by Joe Abraham
Boom’s flagship title continues its terrific run with another winning issue. This time out, having gone through therapy and discovering what Captain Valor did to his own Stephie, Milo and his super-powered counterpart follow up on the man that Valor tried but failed to save in issue two. Unfortunately, that involves going to that fellow’s funeral, something that Milo has no time or gift for. Still refusing to mourn for his parents, let’s just say that his funeral etiquette is… lacking.
Making matters worse is the widow’s spotting of the duo and declaration that Valor is responsible for his death. But the local news screws it up and puts the blame on Milo. Trouble and hilarity are likely to ensue.
In between this amusing nonsense, Milo sends a friend to collect his stuff from his Stephie, Caliginous decides to make a move to help Milo, and we learn the boys’ middle name. With the usual side-splitting dialogue and lack of reverence for, well, anything, HERO SQUARED continues to be top-of-the-pile reading every month.
Nicholas Dane, stuck with the personalities and talents of everyone who died on the plane he was flying on, continues to pursue his quest to finish the works of the dead as TALENT slides into its middle act. But his travels are in danger of being cut short, as the two factions that have been chasing him meet up and join forces. It seems that legit miracles just aren’t allowed to be running free around the world, and since one of those factions seems to have actually caused the crash, it’s become doubly important to stop Dane and his (unwanted) mission.
This time out, Dane finds himself dealing with the last remnants and regrets of boxer Marcus Small’s life. There’s a girl, some mob guys… kinda standard stuff, really, but the book works based on the execution. Azaceta’s quiet, moody art creates an atmosphere that builds emotion in those the dead left behind, which sells Dane’s mission and keeps it from feeling overwrought and dumb.
I’d like to see the series regain some balance, as this leans farther away from being Nicholas’ story this time around than the previous issues. But as a whole, TALENT is still keeping my interest and intrigue, and I haven’t figured out quite where it’s headed, which is a bonus.
X ISLE #2
X ISLE is a book I have very mixed feelings about. On the one hand, the plot is right up my alley; boatful of people stranded on a mysterious island with bizarre creatures and unknown plant life. Terrorized and targeted, bad things are happening. I’m cool with that.
But where issue one started by giving us a number of annoying characters that you thought might turn heroic as issue two rolled around, bad news: the majority of the characters remain annoying and obnoxious, and most of the issue leaves you wishing more of the stranded folks would die, and faster, please.
Be that as it may, the action quotient this time out is upped considerably. There’s a firefight with nasty beasts, a living tree that gets hungry, and a betrayal amongst the group that could portend very bad things through the rest of the series. And while I can’t endorse the character work fully, I can offer that embrace to Greg Scott, who turns in some excellent artwork here. Scott excels across the board, producing solid action sequences, but also providing fine character work. There’s a ton of potential in X ISLE, but it just hasn’t been tapped yet. But seeing as how Cosby is producing one of my favorite hours of television right now (EUREKA), I have to believe that the book eventually will achieve at the level it should
THE SAVAGE BROTHERS #1
Otis and Dale Savage have one of the more unusual jobs in comics. Why? The apocalypse has arrived, the dead walk the Earth, and civilization has fallen. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a good buck to be made; Otis and Dale now hire themselves out as freelance zombie hunters/assassins, taking commissions from folks who don’t want to see their undead relatives wandering the world and eating the flesh of the living.
Strange as it sounds, it’s a pretty good gig, and an even better con. Many of the loved ones can be fooled with some linguistic trickery, just in case the boys take out the wrong zombie. So wandering the wastelands for money and Schlitz is pretty lucrative. But their lives are about to take a drastic turn thanks to their latest assignment, which was handed down to them by a shadowy government type. The boys walk in on the head of the zombies just as he’s about to sacrifice a young woman to the demons of the undead. And sensing an opportunity for something new, along with wondering if the girl can truly be a virgin and a stripper, a shift in career priorities is about to take place.
THE SAVAGE BROTHERS is written with just enough tongue buried in its cheek to score as an amusing trip, and the writers wisely keep the redneckisms of the southern brothers to a minimum (their love of Schlitz is just perfect- subtle and not overwhelming as character traits). The book looks solid as well, Albuquerque portraying the action with some zest and showing an edgy look in his line work. In all, another nifty high-concept book from Boom that should be a hit.
When last we left Nicholas Dane, he was on the run, accused of being a terrorist and bringing down the flight he was on. But he wasn’t being targeted solely by the authorities; Dane was also now the target of a shadowy conspiracy whose purpose was to eliminate any evidence of miracles. Now he has to really dig deep into the abilities and memories he’s taken from his fellow passengers, or he’s a dead man.
If this wasn’t a thriller, or the writers just didn’t care about entertaining us, Dane would immediately prove his innocence, save everyone in his path, and the world would be a happier place for his accident. However, it’s much more interesting when the shit smothers and chokes the fan to death, and that’s certainly where Golden and Sniegoski take the story in part two.
Now is the time in the hero’s journey where he must truly lose all, and the writers certainly don’t disappoint.
In many ways, this should turn out to be the most challenging issue of the series, particularly for Azaceta. To take Nicholas to rock bottom requires slowing down the progress of the plot a bit, and the talking-head quotient of this issue is very high. However, I found myself okay with that, anticipating the narrative development and understanding that the story needed to take certain turns in order to go forward. TALENT continues to intrigue and entertain, and I have no certain idea of how it will resolve. That’s always a nice feeling.
SECOND WAVE: WAR OF THE WORLDS #4
I’ve been enjoying this series immensely, but that said, this issue really left me a little flat. Nelson has put a strong focus on character and the effects on society that the second Martian invasion has created, and that’s good. He’s worked hard to put the Martians themselves in the background a bit and let the story breathe. But I think it’s imperative that he not ignore them completely, which this issue basically does.
Why is that a problem? Simply put, it makes the story feel a little too “generic” as far as apocalyptic scenarios go. The misunderstandings amongst people, the odd and corrupt towns and governments… nothing about the events in this issue read like something you can’t find every month in THE WALKING DEAD. Substitute zombies for Martians, and these match. That’s the wrong way to go for SECOND WAVE.
I’m not giving up on SECOND WAVE or trashing it by any stretch, but it’s important that it regain a sense of its place and remind the reader what makes its milieu special. With Chee continuing to grow as an artist and the book looking better every month, I have no doubt it can happen.
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